Big Data & Data Visualisation

When talking to people about data related projects I have started noticing that it doesn’t take long to get on to the topic of Big Data. It’s a subject that is getting a lot of press at the moment so that’s not too surprising.

The thing that I am finding surprising is that few of those I have been talking to make the connection between Big Data and Data Visualisation. To them the talk is all about the “Three V’s” (Velocity, Variety and Volume) that define big data. My question, once we have covered the ground of how do we cater for and handle the three V’s, is what about the fourth V, Visualisation?

From where I stand it’s all well and good being able to stuff data into a cleverly designed warehouse at an ever increasing rate. But what is the point in that if all you do is pull it out in static, flat one dimensional reports? To make the data really useful and come alive you really need to make it tell a story in a dynamic and visually appealing way. The message you are trying to convey should jump off the screen at the user and at the same time lead them to zero in on the the good AND the bad news.

These days there are an increasing number of tools that allow you to this with varying degrees of flexibility, complexity, functionality and naturally cost. All you have to do is think about how to make it easy for people to get at the information they need through the overwhelming volumes of data (to them) that is available.

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